Dude be a lady tonight

Yellow Jacket Margaritas: A Western “Fairy Tale”

Dan McConnell and Michele Geller-Reynolds act out scenes that bear striking resemblances to those in <i>Victor, Victoria</i>.

Dan McConnell and Michele Geller-Reynolds act out scenes that bear striking resemblances to those in Victor, Victoria.

Rated 3.0

You know how in old Westerns, when the stranger in town enters the saloon, everyone gets quiet and stares at him? It’s like that when I enter the bar at the Crown Point Restaurant, part of the Gold Hill Hotel in Virginia City. I’ve come to see Yellow Jacket Margaritas: A Western “Fairy Tale,” the Gold Hill Theater Troupe’s dinner theater production showing Thursdays in August.

The bartender directs me toward the dining room in back. The young woman inside, dressed as an old-time paper boy (Jessica Boggus), grabs my menu and asks me to follow her to my table. “Extra, extra, read all about it!” she shouts, holding the menu up high like a newspaper. “Saloon owner found murdered! Extra, extra!”

Seating is intimate, with only five or six tables. It’s just like family-style restaurants where you eat side-by-side with strangers and eventually become friends. Cast members mill about. Two men in suspenders sit down at our table.

As the show begins, we learn that our two gentlemen are down-on-their-luck travelers desperate for a resting place in Virginia City. They happen upon a ladies-only boarding house owned by Victoria Secrest (Michele Geller-Reynolds, who also wrote and directed the show) and Victoria’s partner Jasmine Wanabesmart (Jeanne Weber), a ditzy saloon girl. They introduce themselves as Charles Manalot (Dan McConnell) and Beau Annero (Shawn Mahan) and pretend to be gay to gain passage into the house.

Their plan works, but they now need jobs to pay rent. The saloon in town needs dancers, and Victoria suggests the “fairies” fill in. In a scene reminiscent of Some Like It Hot, Charles, whose stage name is Champagne, and Beau, née Macadamia, appear in hilarious saloon-girl get-ups, hairy chests and all.

When the saloon owner, Harry Waxawf (Perry Arnn, co-writer and co-director), finds out he’s been scammed, he threatens to dock their pay. What should they do? Kill him. Harry’s murdered, and now the audience has to guess whodunit, while eating a gourmet feast.

Chef David George’s four-course meal is delicious—shrimp scampi, a Caesar salad, New York strip and gooey chocolate cake. The $48 show ticket covers dinner, but not the pricey alcoholic beverages, tax or the 18 percent gratuity, which is added automatically.

During dessert, the murderer is revealed, and audience members who guessed correctly receive a free drink. Sadly, I guessed wrong.

Yellow Jacket Margaritas is funny. The strongest performances are those of McConnell and Geller-Reynolds. The supporting cast is fairly weak and inexperienced, which occasionally felt awkward. While some laughs were just to be polite, many were real. I was disappointed when the murderer was revealed. Without giving the end away, I felt cheated by the all-too-convenient culprit. I did, however, like the casual atmosphere and audience interaction. It felt like a party, and that made it fun.

If $60 per person for a dinner and show doesn’t seem too rich for your blood, see Yellow Jacket Margaritas. Or check out Deception, the Troupe’s Wednesday night production. This one isn’t the best show you’ll see this summer, but you’ll laugh, you’ll eat well, and you’ll make some new friends at your table.